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Another Pedestrian Dies, Another Killer Driver Walks

2:53 PM EDT on April 20, 2009

cf7.jpgJoAnne Hayden-Weissman, center, was killed by a curb-jumping driver in Queens on April 16.

The words never fail to shock.

Last Thursday afternoon, 55-year-old JoAnne (Kodetsky) Hayden-Weissman was walking her dog on a path near Cross Bay Boulevard in Broad Channel, Queens when a driver reportedly jumped the curb, striking both her and her pet. Hayden-Weissman, a popular dance instructor who founded the Western Steppers line dancing group, later died at Peninsula Hospital. Her dog was also killed, according to a commenter on the web site of the Daily News, which has the only coverage of the incident we've found.

Meanwhile, as residents bemoan Cross Bay Boulevard's status as a speedway for reckless motorists:

The driver stayed at the scene and was not charged.

As we've learned from our interviews with Leslie Crocker Snyder and Maureen McCormick, prosecutors in New York State are often hamstrung when it comes to going after sober drivers who kill. When pedestrian deaths in the city are so commonplace that they barely merit a mention in local media, while certain prosecutors show no inclination to push for any punishment whatsoever even in the most high-profile cases of motorist negligence, it's clearly going to take a lot more consciousness-raising over many more years for the words "the driver was not charged" to become the exception, rather than the rule.

Not that it can't happen: As McCormick points out, until MADD came along, drunk drivers were given the same societal free pass as careless, but no less deadly, drivers enjoy today.

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